SEA RAY SLX 310 QUICK SPIN
A dayboat with plenty of tricks up its sleeve, this is a great introduction to fun-filled days on the water
The SLX range is Sea Ray at its best: cool, practical, versatile and designed for having fun out on the water. How does the 310 fare?
The conditions that we are testing the SLX 310 in are a world away from what it is designed for. We’re off Porto Cristo on the east coast of Majorca and the Med is in a horrible mood, throwing up a confused, pointy chop that doesn’t allow for any sort of rhythm from the helm seat. It’s about being on and off the throttle to keep impact to a minimum and spotting a small gap in the onslaught to make some decent progress. The standing driving position is comfortable for rough-weather work. The 310 may be a watersports-orientated family dayboat, but it’s tackling these conditions admirably. The ride is dry and assured and the pair of 6.2-litre 300hp Mercruiser V8s are delivering a delicious soundtrack to proceedings. At times, in the rough among the troughs, the torque of the optional twin 260hp diesel motors is missed, but for flat-out performance and smooth operation, the twin petrols can’t be faulted.
This isn’t the sort of focused, slender sportsboat that you drive like hell into the waves and let the hull do the work – you have to caress it through the chop. But drive sensibly and it will dig deep and look after you. It’s a family boat, and all you need to know is that when the afternoon breeze kicks up some obstacles, the 310 will get you back to base safely and comfortably.
DESIGN IN MIND
Stop bouncing around for a second and you can appreciate some of the work that has gone into making the 310 such a competent day cruiser. It has a very flexible cockpit with an aft bench that can be converted into a sunpad and popup backrests facing aft so you can sit and keep an eye on those swimming behind the boat. You can set up tables in the cockpit and bow rider section at the same time, or you can convert one or both of them into sunpads. The twin bench adjacent to the helm swivels, on a nicely engineered mechanism that’s a breeze to use, to face into the cockpit and become part of the dinette. Overhead there is an optional powered canopy that can be raised and lowered at the touch of a button to either add more protection to the helm, adjust the shade level of the cockpit or clamp completely down to reduce the air draught, or for inland work or transport.
For dayboat duties, the heads, with a proper loo, sink and some storage, is a big advantage and means you don’t have to plan a cruise around access to facilities, choosing to stay on anchor all day if you wish. Annoyingly though, the door did keep popping open so it seems a beefed-up catch is in order.
Something that isn’t so welcome is the carpet on the cockpit sole. The American yards seem to love it but it’s so impractical, especially on a boat that’s going to spend much of its time catering for swimmers and those doing watersports. There is a teak option but for me, the optional Infinity flooring, which is made from woven fibres and kept in place with poppers, is by far the most practical and attractive option.
There’s a whole host of optional features designed to make life easier if you’re new to boating, or simply want the boat and its technology to take the strain. The Axius system takes the stress out of berthing by vectoring the Bravo III sterndrives to make the boat move in any direction you point the joystick. Similarly, Mercury Marine’s Active Trim system will manipulate the legs and trim tabs to deliver the best-running attitude for the conditions, and it can even be used to adjust the wake depending on what watersports you’re doing. Even the helm design uses automotive touches, such as the digital instrument display, flushmounted into the dash and encompassing engine revs, speed, basic engine information and an inset chart display to aid navigation. The system is slick enough but it’s not as advanced as dedicated maritime MFDS, which you can spec if you prefer.
The dash and driving position also has an automotive feel, which is no bad thing if your experience of boats is limited. It’s fun and a bit flash and doubtless the younger buyer that this boat is aimed at will like it. There are other smart and thoughtful touches too, such as the air compressor tucked in a locker behind the helm, which is useful for inflating water toys quickly, and the hydraulic platform that deploys at the stern at the perfect height to put on waterskis or collect people from the water.
The SLX 310 really is Sea Ray at its best. This is a fun, good-looking, fast (up to 43 knots on a calm day), safe, practical dayboat with some neat tricks up its sleeve that the whole family can appreciate. Contact Marina Marbella. Tel: +44 (0)1202 714970. Web: www.searay.com
Big bow riders like the 310 make a lot of sense if you only use it as a dayboat
The digital display can be hard to read in direct sunlight but it looks good
A great cockpit, but we’d lose the carpet and add a teak-topped table The spacious heads compartment will come in handy on day trips
Access to the motors is good thanks to the deck lifting on a hydraulic ram